Not sure if you are familiar with Disney’s cartoon-movie Zootopia, but recent turn of events in 38 strikes a similar chord to one of Zootopia‘s themes — that stereotypes are common, but may sometimes be baseless. Jung-do and Nick work in the same line of “job” (if scamming people can be considered a job), and both excel at it since they are gifted with a silver tongue.


While being articulate is not a crime, using the talent to con people certainly is. So you can’t blame Sung-il for being wary of Jung-do. Even if incumbent Inspector Sa looks like a viper, his warnings on Jung-do is hard to ignore. There is a possibility (if we look at it rationally) that Jung-do and gang may run away with the 500m won conned from Chairman Bang, leaving Sung-il high and dry — and very much in trouble.


However, like Sung-il, we choose to trust Jung-do and his band of thieves. 38, like many other police procedurals that take the “other side”, shows the irony of stereotypes. The “police” (or in this case, lawmakers or govt officers) are the corrupted bunch, who are not only greedy but also unscrupulous in stepping on one of their own in order to better themselves. The obvious one is Director Ahn, who used to be Sung-il’s hoobae, and got promoted through underhand means. Although it is not clear at the moment, I am quite sure Councilor Chun and Inspector Sa are not above lining their pockets with money from Chairman Bang and Ma Jin-seok.


In contrast, our group of social outcasts (aka the “thieves”) have a unspoken code of honour and loyalty. Mdm No, despite her initial misgivings over Jung-do, gives in to the “Chairman’s” request to help him. Similarly with Jung-do’s other buddies — Burner Jang, Hacker Jung and Mi-joo (though the latter have some romantic issues that will give Jung-do a headache) — the three agree unanimously to help Jung-do out in the Ma Jin-seok job, even when they learn of Mdm No pulling out. Most importantly, after conning Ma Jin-seok and recovering the 50m won taxes he owed, the 4 agree to help Sung-il recover taxes from 300 other evaders pro bono. Juz so that Sung-il can keep his job. (aww)


It appears that Sung-il’s implicit trust in his newfound friends isn’t baseless. They are a much better lot than those suit-and-ties in his office.